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[laf, lahf] /læf, lɑf/
verb (used without object)
to express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal expulsion of air from the lungs that can range from a loud burst of sound to a series of quiet chuckles and is usually accompanied by characteristic facial and bodily movements.
to experience the emotion so expressed:
He laughed inwardly at the scene.
to produce a sound resembling human laughter:
A coyote laughed in the dark.
verb (used with object)
to drive, put, bring, etc., by or with laughter (often followed by out, away, down, etc.):
They laughed him out of town. We laughed away our troubles.
to utter with laughter:
He laughed his consent.
the act or sound of laughing; laughter.
an expression of mirth, derision, etc., by laughing.
Informal. something that provokes laughter, amusement, or ridicule:
After all the advance publicity, the prizefight turned out to be a laugh.
laughs, Informal. fun; amusement.
Verb phrases
laugh at,
  1. to make fun of; deride; ridicule:
    They were laughing at him, not along with him.
  2. to be scornful of; reject:
    They stopped laughing at the unusual theory when it was found to be predictive.
  3. to find sympathetic amusement in; regard with humor:
    We can learn to laugh a little at even our most serious foibles.
laugh off, to dismiss as ridiculous, trivial, or hollow:
He had received threats but laughed them off as the work of a crank.
have the last laugh, to prove ultimately successful after a seeming defeat or loss:
She smiled slyly, because she knew she would yet have the last laugh on them.
laugh it up, to laugh or joke in a hearty way:
He was laughing it up with his friends.
laugh out of court, to dismiss or depreciate by means of ridicule; totally scorn:
His violent protests were laughed out of court by the others.
laugh out of the other side of one's mouth, to undergo a chastening reversal, as of glee or satisfaction that is premature; be ultimately chagrined, punished, etc.; cry:
She's proud of her promotion, but she'll laugh out of the other side of her mouth when the work piles up.
Also, laugh on the wrong side of one's mouth/face.
laugh up one's sleeve. sleeve (def 7).
Origin of laugh
before 900; Middle English laughen, Old English hlæh(h)an (Anglian); cognate with Dutch, German lachen, Old Norse hlǣja, Gothic hlahjan
Related forms
outlaugh, verb (used with object)
1. chortle, cackle, cachinnate, guffaw, roar; giggle, snicker, snigger, titter. 6. Laugh, chuckle, grin, smile refer to methods of expressing mirth, appreciation of humor, etc. A laugh may be a sudden, voiceless exhalation, but is usually an audible sound, either soft or loud: a hearty laugh. Chuckle suggests a barely audible series of sounds expressing private amusement or satisfaction: a delighted chuckle. A smile is a (usually pleasant) lighting up of the face and an upward curving of the corners of the lips (which may or may not be open); it may express amusement or mere recognition, friendliness, etc.: a courteous smile. A grin, in which the teeth are usually visible, is like an exaggerated smile, less controlled in expressing the feelings: a friendly grin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for laugh out of court


(intransitive) to express or manifest emotion, esp mirth or amusement, typically by expelling air from the lungs in short bursts to produce an inarticulate voiced noise, with the mouth open
(intransitive) (esp of certain mammals or birds) to make a noise resembling a laugh
(transitive) to utter or express with laughter: he laughed his derision at the play
(transitive) to bring or force (someone, esp oneself) into a certain condition by laughter: he laughed himself sick
(intransitive) foll by at. to make fun (of); jeer (at)
(intransitive) foll by over. to read or discuss something with laughter
(informal) don't make me laugh, I don't believe you for a moment
(informal) laugh all the way to the bank, to be unashamedly pleased at making a lot of money
laugh in a person's face, to show open contempt or defiance towards a person
(informal) laugh like a drain, to laugh loudly and coarsely
laugh up one's sleeve, to laugh or have grounds for amusement, self-satisfaction, etc, secretly
laugh on the other side of one's face, to show sudden disappointment or shame after appearing cheerful or confident
(informal) be laughing, to be in a favourable situation
the act or an instance of laughing
a manner of laughter
(informal) a person or thing that causes laughter: that holiday was a laugh
the last laugh, the final success in an argument, situation, etc, after previous defeat
Derived Forms
laugher, noun
laughing, noun, adjective
laughingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English læhan, hliehhen; related to Gothic hlahjan, Dutch lachen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for laugh out of court



1680s, from laugh (v.). Meaning "a cause of laughter" is from 1895; ironic use (e.g. that's a laugh) attested from 1930. Laugh track "canned laughter on a TV program" is from 1961.



late 14c., from Old English (Anglian) hlæhhan, earlier hlihhan, from Proto-Germanic *klakhjanan (cf. Old Norse hlæja, Danish le, Old Frisian hlakkia, Old Saxon hlahhian, Middle Dutch and Dutch lachen, Old High German hlahhan, German lachen, Gothic hlahjan), from PIE *kleg-, of imitative origin (cf. Latin cachinnare "to laugh aloud," Sanskrit kakhati "laughs," Old Church Slavonic chochotati "laugh," Lithuanian klageti "to cackle," Greek kakhazein). Originally with a "hard" -gh- sound, as in Scottish loch; the spelling remained after the pronunciation shifted to "-f."

If I coveted nowe to avenge the injuries that you have done me, I myght laughe in my slyve. [John Daus, "Sleidanes Commentaries," 1560]
Related: Laughed; laughing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for laugh out of court


Related Terms

belly laugh, the horselaugh

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with laugh out of court

laugh out of court

Dismiss with ridicule or scorn, as in When he told them the old car could be repaired, they laughed him out of court. This expression, which originally referred to a case so laughable or trivial that a court of law would dismiss it, originated in ancient Roman times but has been used in English, without its former legal significance, since the late 1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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